Archive for category metrology
Careful consideration of all the elements of a system’s design can lead you to some very improved performance. Imagine improving a benchtop NMR system by making it 60 times lighter (120kg to 2kg), 40 times smaller, and yet 60 times more sensitive!
This article, from the IEEE Journal of Solid State Circuits (Vol. 44, No. 5, May 2009), shows an excellent example of how this occurs.
link to IEEE abstract of ‘CMOS RF Biosensor Utilizing Nuclear Magnetic Resonance’ by Sun, Liu, Lee, Weissleder, and Ham
I recommend reading the article – it’s very well written, it describes how NMR works, and it details their systems approach to their improved design. Much can be learned here. The use of a resonant circuit for gain (they call it ‘passive amplification’) is detailed in Figure 8 of the article. (It reminded me of the old ‘regenerative’ type radio receivers, back when a vacuum tube had a power gain of about 12).
Put another way, this article shows that the ‘building block’ approach, when off-the-shelf 50 Ohm compatible RF modules are used, makes it easy to build a system that works – but that it leaves out some great performance improvements that are only possible when you analyze the basic system operation and theory. The design improves when you ask questions like ‘why 50 Ohms’ or ‘where does that noise originate and how can I maximize the signal’ and ‘how can I make this work with a much smaller and lighter magnet’? The article also answers ‘now that I can use a small magnet, can I make a custom CMOS IC that performs the RF detection, and seriously reduce system cost and size’?
Buying as much stuff off the shelf is not bad – it’s a great way to get a proof of principle working FAST, and it demonstrates that an idea or technique can work. Nothing says ‘success’ like working hardware – it allows the investors, managers and engineers to breathe easier.
But that extra performance gain from really digging into the details of how things work can pay off – in this case, it changes a benchtop lab instrument into a battery operated portable clinical test platform – this opens new opportunities and situations where this NMR system can be utilized.
It’s easy to confuse the units of LED light output. Steradians, luminous intensity, etc.
Here’s a link to an application note that explains these well, written by C. Richard Duda of UDT (now part of OSI Inc.). Apertures, intentional and otherwise, are discussed, along with typical test configurations.
Please tell us if the link gets broken!
Lately we’ve been able to use our digital camera to perform some nice measurements, through the help of a program called ImageJ.
It’s free, was developed at NIH, is open-source, it has a ton of features and plug-ins, and you can write scripting macros, etc etc. It was developed so that the scientific community would have an open standard to process images. (Without an open standard for image number crunching, there’s no good way to independently reproduce an experiment that makes heavy use of images and image processing.)
You can read about it here at Wikipedia:
It’s available here:
We were turned onto this image analysis program by a couple of our clients. We recommend it. Today the cool thing was to separate the RGB channels, and allow us to ‘see’ an IR LED without being confused by the camera’s ‘grey scale’ clipping algorithm. Very nice.
This tech note was motivated by the question – how does the response of our eyes
differ from the response of a CCD camera sensor.
Using the data of a particular Hammamatsu CCD camera as an example,
we compared how silicon ‘sees’ to the photopic eye response
and compared both to a Planck black-body curve of a light at a particular
We don’t know what those lumps are in that CCD response curve – maybe some
strange reflection interference??
If you know – tell us!
Color temperature is based upon the idea of a Planck black-body radiator.
Here’s a Tech Note that shows how our eyes respond to the Planck Black-Body radiator.
For a lamp filament at a certain ‘color temperature’ there’s a curve of how our eyes
respond to the lamp. Pete put this into a MathCAD model, and there’s a pdf here
that shows off a few nice graphs.
Ok, we have a book problem.
Both of us waay like good engineering books. A good explanation, or a great
graph that sums up why that camera ‘sees’ differently than my eyes, etc.
Since we’re always stumbling on more good books, this list will grow.
Drop by later see what’s new.
Here’s some of the books we like, as a pdf file here,
and here’s some more books we like:
- the Feynman Lectures on Physics, a 3 volume set. Here’s a guy who can explain anything well. Like how sine, cosine and the magic number e all relate to the imaginary number i (square root of -1). He also has a great description of how a ’50 Ohm’ transmission line acts like ’50 Ohms’ no matter how long it is. For a really great puzzle – read his description of how charging a capacitor really involves magnetic fields outside the cap’s plates.